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Philip's Norelco Brand Once Meant Something Other Than Electric Shavers

Today, the brand name Norelco is synonymous with Philips-made electric shavers.  But in the mid-60s, when color television began to take hold in America, the Norelco PC-60 was Philip's introduction to the famed Plumbicon picture tube.

ImageThe PC-60 arrived in 1966 at a time when RCA dominated color television with its one-year-old TK 42 series combo Vidicon and Image Orthicon cameras.  The Plumbicon tube was smaller and more sensitive, but not as sharp.  Its color was often described as mushy.  Nevertheless, the Plumbicon was a major success.

Invented in 1960 as an alternative to the tubes used in RCA's studio cameras, the chief technical advantage of the Plumbicon was that it allowed true color fidelity to be seen in TV broadcasts for the first time.  Philips claimed Plumbicon tubes offered "high resolution, low lag and superior image quality" over conventional camera tubes.

Plumbicons, as implemented on the PC-60, had excellent resolution but lacked the artificially sharp edges of Vidicon and Image Orthicon tubes. This caused many critical TV viewers to perceive the tubes as softer. As a result, CBS Labs later invented the first outboard edge enhancement circuits to sharpen the edges of images generated by Plumbicon tubes.

In 1967, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Philips an Emmy award for "Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development" for the invention of the Plumbicon tube.

During the 1960s and 70s, Philips made and marketed a complete line of Norelco professional video cameras in the United States. CBS was a notable customer, using the models PC-60, PC-70, PC-72, PCP-90, the LDH series, and later the LDK series.

By the 1980s, the Norelco name was dropped in favor of Philips. Later marketed using the BTS brand name in a joint venture with Bosch, this combined broadcast division was later sold to Thomson, where it remains today.